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Ancient Egyptian Burial Chamber Art in Tutankhamen's Tomb

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  • 0:00 Tutankhamen's Tomb
  • 0:56 Interior Chambers of…
  • 2:02 Artistic Objects and Murals
  • 4:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Juliao

David has a bachelor's degree in architecture, has done research in architecture, arts and design and has worked in the field for several years.

In this lesson, we are going to look at the pieces of art found in one of the most important Egyptian discoveries: King Tut's tomb. Learn about the discovery of the tomb, the chambers inside it, and the many objects and art pieces located there.

Tutankhamen's Tomb

The Tomb of King Tut is a burial place found in 1922 by British Egyptologist Howard Carter during an expedition to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. The tomb was nearly intact and its discovery was widely covered by media around the world, turning Tutankhamen into one of the best-known kings of Ancient Egypt.

The discovery happened when Carter's crew was working on a site in the Valley of the Kings. They removed some debris and found a stair marked with royal symbols. It was Tutankhamen's tomb.

The archaeological excavation took almost eight years, and the interior chambers were mapped and accessed in different stages beginning in November 1922 and lasting through November 1930, when the last objects were removed. This finding piqued a new interest in Ancient Egypt as people were amazed by the gold treasures, wall paintings, and the mysterious mummy.

Interior Chambers of Tutankhamen's Tomb

The Tomb of Tutankhamen differs from others in the Valley of the Kings mainly because of the wall decorations, which are modest in comparison. Also, only the burial chamber walls were decorated. The scarcity of decoration on the walls has led scholars to believe this tomb wasn't originally intended to guard the remains of royalty and that it was hurriedly adapted to do so.

The chambers inside the tomb consist of the main staircase that descends to the first doorway and an entrance corridor going from the first doorway to the antechamber. Here, a small wooden sculpture of the pharaoh, known as the Head of Nefertem, is supposed to have been found.

The antechamber, a large room that contained more than 700 different items, such as funeral beds, chariot parts, and a copper trumpet. The burial chamber is where the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun was found, surrounded by four gilded wooden shrines. The treasury room is another chamber filled with objects of relevance either for use during and after the funeral or symbolic objects to be used by the pharaoh in the afterlife and to guard the tomb against evil forces and robbers.

Artistic Objects and Murals

Many kinds of objects were discovered inside the Tomb of Tutankhamen. These objects, along with the murals on the walls, shone a light on the life and death of the ancient Egyptian king. They also provided a valuable insight into the political, religious, and spiritual landscape of Egypt at the time of his life and death.

The murals in the burial chamber are strangely large, a fact often attributed to the rush by which the burial supposedly took place. Only a few large figures were painted as opposed to the numerous smaller scenes found inside other tombs.

The Northern Wall of the chamber has three depictions of King Tut. In the first, he has an open mouth as part of a ceremony performed to imbue life onto mummies. In the second, we see Tutankhamen as a young child welcomed to the afterlife by Nut, goddess of the sky. The third mural depicts Tutankhamen embracing Osiris, the god of death.

The Eastern Wall has representations of High Officials of Egypt. The Southern Wall was used by Carter to access the burial chamber, so it was partially damaged. The intact area shows Tutankhamen with Anubis, god of afterlife and Hathor, god of joy. The gods are holding ankhs, which are crosses with a loop on the upper part and the Egyptian symbol of life.

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